17 Sep The Object Of Faith Matters More Than The Size Of Faith
How important is our faith? The Bible tells us: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb 11:6). And the common thinking is that the one with great faith will be highly rewarded and those with little faith will be rebuked. While this can be true, there are also cases in the Bible where people with little faith found mercy, like Jesus’ disciples who were terrified by the storm yet Jesus still calmed the sea for them (Mt 8:23-27). Yet, sometimes, those with seemingly great faith did not please God instead. For example, the prophets of Baal seemed to display great faith, praying loudly to their god yet they received no response and were slaughtered instead (1 Ki 18:25-40). Thus, we see that what matters more is not the “size” of human faith, but the “object” of our faith.
Have you ever questioned if your faith is “enough”?
And how much faith is considered enough? Jesus answered that question by saying: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Mt 17:20). In other words, a small faith can be enough. But a related question is, enough for what? Will our faith be enough to save us, or will the size of our faith be able to fulfil our desires regardless of what God’s sovereign will is?
1) Even a “big faith” cannot supersede God’s will.
Some Christians like to look at the verses we read earlier and claim that as long as believers have faith, we can move mountains and nothing is impossible for us to accomplish. They may even accuse other Christians for not having enough or real faith, telling them that because their faith is too small or insincere, that’s why when they pray, healing didn’t take place or God didn’t give them what they want. Is that really true? Can we say that if our faith is big enough then we can exploit God’s power to achieve our own aims without regard for what God’s will is? Certainly not! Faith is not effective outside of God’s will. If something is not of God’s will, no amount of human faith can force God’s hands to do anything against His will. So our faith cannot supersede God’s will. True faith is to believe that even if we do not get our desired outcomes, God is always right and good and we should keep following Him.
2) Is our faith enough to save us?
Charles Spurgeon said this which I think is very clear, “Our life is found in “looking unto Jesus,” not in looking to our own faith. By faith all things become possible to us; yet the power is not in the faith, but in the God upon whom faith relies.”
The truth is, we fallen men cannot have saving faith on our own, God must first give us that faith by His grace (Ep 2:8-9). And we must be clear that what atones us is not our faith, but what atones for our sins is the blood of Christ. R.C. Sproul said that Christians are not just because our faith atones for all our sins or because our faith is such a supreme form of righteousness that it covers all our unrighteousness. Rather, the reason God counts us righteous is because of Christ’s righteousness.
In a similar vein, Timothy Keller said, “It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch.” These theologians summarized it well, our faith is not enough to save us. Faith is the means to our justification, but what saves us is the work of Christ. Furthermore, even after believing in Christ, our faith is still not perfect and is easily shaken. Therefore, what matters more is not the quality of our faith, but the object of our faith. So our faith may be as small as the mustard seed, but if we truly believe in the right God, the right object of faith, then we can be saved.
Is the object of our faith right?
Do we truly believe in the one and only true God? Do we really believe that Christ is the only Saviour to mankind (cf. Acts 4:12)? If we believe in the right object of faith, then we can be saved. Conversely, the prophets of Baal might display great faith, but as they had trusted in a wrong object of faith, in a false god, they perished in the end. However, if our object of faith is right, meaning, if the one we trust in is Christ, then we can always have hope. For Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). When we doubt our salvation because of our little faith, remind ourselves that it is not the size of our faith that saves us but the Object of our faith – God. For it is written: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ep 2:4-5, 8). Yes, our faith is the means to receive salvation, but salvation comes from God.
But does it mean that faith is therefore unimportant?
Of course not! If our faith is constantly weak, it will only make us lose the joy, peace and power in Christ, even though we should be able to enjoy these after being saved. Thus, we should seek to grow in our faith. Our little faith is meant to remind us that we still need God greatly even after receiving eternal salvation. So we cannot be complacent after being saved, for there will be trials and tests coming our way, and without faith, we won’t be able to withstand them. Thus, we need to build up our faith, through knowing God, His truth and His promises better. As it is written “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Ro 10:17). So we should all the more thirst for God’s word and be rooted in it to grow in faith.
And even if we feel our faith is still small, we must not let our little faith deter us from drawing near to God. Instead, we need to learn to pray, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mk 9:23-24). In fact, the gospel has been shifting our attention from what humans can do, to what God has done and can do. Precisely because our faith is not robust enough, we need God more. We thank God that our weakness will not weaken Him, but His strength can empower us.
Dear brothers and sisters, while our faith may be shaken by many things in life, let us remember that our hope is in the Object of our faith – God, and not in the size and quality of our faith. Our faith may not be enough, but His grace is sufficient. Even if we are unable to cling tightly to Him, God will hold fast to us. The important thing is, do we have the right object of faith?